Hospital’s vital role in Parkinson’s study

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A CURE for Parkinson’s disease could centre around Milton Keynes Hospital with the launch of a new study.

Parkinson’s UK, the country’s leading charity for the neurological disease, is investing £1.6 million into the research study to unlock further secrets about Parkinson’s and to boost the chances of finding a cure.

And Milton Keynes General is one of the key centres taking part. Research at the hospital is being led by neurology consultant Dr Michele Hu. She said: “Finding a cure for Parkinson’s is what every researcher in the field dreams about. Tracking Parkinson’s is a major new research project and we are very excited to be involved right at the beginning.

“This study really offers hope for the future for people with Parkinson’s, and we need people in Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas to volunteer to help us make our vision of a cure a reality.”

‘Tracking Parkinson’s’ primary aim is to identify elusive biomarkers for Parkinson’s (signpost indicators in the blood, for example) that could help develop simple tests, like blood tests, for use as diagnostic tools. Despite the best efforts of researchers worldwide no biomarkers have yet been identified for Parkinson’s. An early diagnosis is crucial if doctors are to be able to prescribe the right drugs for people with Parkinson’s to control – and one day, hopefully, even cure – their condition.

Dr Kieran Breen, Director of Research and Innovation at Parkinson’s UK said: “Studies like ‘Tracking Parkinson’s’ could make a huge difference and help us to ultimately find a cure. Identifying biomarkers is key and would revolutionise the diagnosis and management of Parkinson’s. Finding a cure for Parkinson’s is like building a gigantic jigsaw, but we still have a number of the pieces missing. This vital new study will help us fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge.

“We hope ‘Tracking Parkinson’s’ will also help us to identify people who have a greater ‘risk‘ of developing Parkinson’s and we can monitor them more accurately.”

Dr Donald Grosset, who is leading the ‘Tracking Parkinson’s’ study, said: “The cure for Parkinson’s is a global challenge and all the samples gathered from our thousands of volunteers will be available for analysis by researchers the world over.

“This, in itself, will speed up our ultimate goal – to develop a cure for Parkinson’s. I am very excited to be leading this cutting edge research collaborating with top researchers from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

> To qualify as a volunteer for ‘Tracking Parkinson’s’ at one of the UK centres, people need to be under the age of 50 at diagnoses or have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s within the last three years. Brothers or sisters of either set of participants are also invited to take part.

To register, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk/tracking